Author Topic: The British Composers Thread  (Read 142297 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #900 on: April 02, 2021, 03:37:01 AM »
Oof, that's a burn on Michael.
I enjoy his radio programmes!
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #901 on: April 02, 2021, 07:53:26 AM »
I have been listening with much pleasure to Lennox Berkeley's First Symphony (1940). I've seen it written-off as lightweight but it is nothing of the sort. His music reminds me of that of Walter Piston, very well-constructed, Neo-classical and 'elegant' but in his best works, as in the First Symphony and Concerto for Two Pianos there is great depth (especially in the slow movements) and an underlying slumbering power (Piston's 2nd and 6th symphonies are other examples). The First Symphony and Concerto for Two Pianos were once coupled together on one of my favourite Lyrita LPs. I'm sorry that Chandos decided to release their CDs of music by Berkeley, father and son. It probably seemed a clever idea but I'd have much rather had CDs of music by Lennox Berkeley alone. I met him once, when I asked him to sign my programme after a concert. I recall him as a very nice man who took an interest in whether of not I was a musician (sadly not). This CD also includes the lovely 'Serenade for Strings':

Impressed you met LB, Jeffrey. Not lightweight at all but sophisticated. His music is more in the French idiom then typically British. The Serenade is a great favourite of mine and one recording of the work from an unlikely source is the best, even better then Berkeley's own. A mono recording from the Decca golden period is outstanding with rhythm to die for.   
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #902 on: April 02, 2021, 08:12:00 AM »
Impressed you met LB, Jeffrey. Not lightweight at all but sophisticated. His music is more in the French idiom then typically British. The Serenade is a great favourite of mine and one recording of the work from an unlikely source is the best, even better then Berkeley's own. A mono recording from the Decca golden period is outstanding with rhythm to die for.
What an interesting looking LP Lol! Never seen it before.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #903 on: April 03, 2021, 01:18:03 AM »
What an interesting looking LP Lol! Never seen it before.

Go for it Jeffrey, you will not regret.



As much Australian as British and not just the performers, a LP I am enjoying a great deal. The programme of works is most imaginative. Dives and Lazarus is wonderful with a performance to match from the Sydney SO with Carl Pini. Sharing side one is Eugene Goossens Oboe Concerto, a instrument much connected with the English pastoral movement - not here though. Written for one of the greatest players ever, Eugene's brother Leon, this work must even have tested his virtuosic skill! The longest work, Malcolm Williamson's Sinfonietta is fairly complex and oddly opens grave and solemn working itself through to closing in high jinks and humour. There is a thrilling episode involving percussion.
A recording that for me was like a breath of fresh air.   
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #904 on: April 03, 2021, 01:39:01 AM »
Go for it Jeffrey, you will not regret.



As much Australian as British and not just the performers, a LP I am enjoying a great deal. The programme of works is most imaginative. Dives and Lazarus is wonderful with a performance to match from the Sydney SO with Carl Pini. Sharing side one is Eugene Goossens Oboe Concerto, a instrument much connected with the English pastoral movement - not here though. Written for one of the greatest players ever, Eugene's brother Leon, this work must even have tested his virtuosic skill! The longest work, Malcolm Williamson's Sinfonietta is fairly complex and oddly opens grave and solemn working itself through to closing in high jinks and humour. There is a thrilling episode involving percussion.
A recording that for me was like a breath of fresh air.   
Thanks Lol. Looking at it again I think that I may well have owned it at one time  ::).
I made some good discoveries through that RCA series. The Roy Harris/Martinu 5th symphonies for one. Fricker Symphony No.1 as well.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #905 on: April 03, 2021, 07:32:26 AM »
Thanks Lol. Looking at it again I think that I may well have owned it at one time  ::).
I made some good discoveries through that RCA series. The Roy Harris/Martinu 5th symphonies for one. Fricker Symphony No.1 as well.

Am I right in guessing no CD release, Jeffrey?

Belongs on the vinyl thread but this series of RCA generic covers were pressed in Rome. As Bax 4 I find them perfectly acceptable. Also a similar series of Supraphon releases.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #906 on: April 03, 2021, 09:17:44 AM »
Am I right in guessing no CD release, Jeffrey?

Belongs on the vinyl thread but this series of RCA generic covers were pressed in Rome. As Bax 4 I find them perfectly acceptable. Also a similar series of Supraphon releases.
No CD release as far as I'm aware Lol.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline kyjo

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #907 on: April 03, 2021, 10:35:18 AM »
I have been listening with much pleasure to Lennox Berkeley's First Symphony (1940). I've seen it written-off as lightweight but it is nothing of the sort. His music reminds me of that of Walter Piston, very well-constructed, Neo-classical and 'elegant' but in his best works, as in the First Symphony and Concerto for Two Pianos there is great depth (especially in the slow movements) and an underlying slumbering power (Piston's 2nd and 6th symphonies are other examples). The First Symphony and Concerto for Two Pianos were once coupled together on one of my favourite Lyrita LPs. I'm sorry that Chandos decided to release their CDs of music by Berkeley, father and son. It probably seemed a clever idea but I'd have much rather had CDs of music by Lennox Berkeley alone. I met him once, when I asked him to sign my programme after a concert. I recall him as a very nice man who took an interest in whether of not I was a musician (sadly not). This CD also includes the lovely 'Serenade for Strings':

Very much agreed about the Berkeley/Piston connection, Jeffrey - both in terms of overall style and in terms of the (imo) unevenness of their outputs. They each wrote a few wonderful works where they let their emotional guards down - in Berekeley’s case, his Concerto for 2 Pianos, 1st Symphony, and Serenade for Strings (plus a few other earlier works), and in Piston’s case, his 2nd and 6th Symphonies, 1st VC, Incredible Flutist, Divertimento, etc. Unfortunately, I find a good bit of each composer’s output (especially their later works) to be a bit “academic” and grey in comparison to the works I mentioned, undoubtedly well-crafted though they are.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #908 on: April 03, 2021, 01:43:37 PM »
Very much agreed about the Berkeley/Piston connection, Jeffrey - both in terms of overall style and in terms of the (imo) unevenness of their outputs. They each wrote a few wonderful works where they let their emotional guards down - in Berekeley’s case, his Concerto for 2 Pianos, 1st Symphony, and Serenade for Strings (plus a few other earlier works), and in Piston’s case, his 2nd and 6th Symphonies, 1st VC, Incredible Flutist, Divertimento, etc. Unfortunately, I find a good bit of each composer’s output (especially their later works) to be a bit “academic” and grey in comparison to the works I mentioned, undoubtedly well-crafted though they are.
Very much agree with this Kyle. Must listen to Piston's VC No.1 which I don't know at all.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #909 on: April 04, 2021, 12:56:27 AM »
Very much agreed about the Berkeley/Piston connection, Jeffrey - both in terms of overall style and in terms of the (imo) unevenness of their outputs. They each wrote a few wonderful works where they let their emotional guards down - in Berekeley’s case, his Concerto for 2 Pianos, 1st Symphony, and Serenade for Strings (plus a few other earlier works), and in Piston’s case, his 2nd and 6th Symphonies, 1st VC, Incredible Flutist, Divertimento, etc. Unfortunately, I find a good bit of each composer’s output (especially their later works) to be a bit “academic” and grey in comparison to the works I mentioned, undoubtedly well-crafted though they are.

Good point. I have the Maggini recording of Berkeley quartets 1-3 and unable to recall a single thing about them.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #910 on: April 04, 2021, 02:13:33 AM »
Good point. I have the Maggini recording of Berkeley quartets 1-3 and unable to recall a single thing about them.
Ha, well I write down my impressions when listen to new repertoire so I can remember my first reactions. Some of these aren’t charitable: about some string quartets by a moderately famous British composer I wrote ‘resolution without there having been a conflict’.

Offline Irons

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #911 on: April 04, 2021, 11:45:37 PM »
Ha, well I write down my impressions when listen to new repertoire so I can remember my first reactions. Some of these aren’t charitable: about some string quartets by a moderately famous British composer I wrote ‘resolution without there having been a conflict’.

Now you have me wondering who the "moderately famous British composer is!". There are a few. ;D
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline Big David

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #912 on: April 09, 2021, 01:05:08 PM »
Just received the CD 'Chains Like the Sea', featuring music by Bernard Rands.  Contains his cello concerto and the works Danza Petrificada and Chains Like the Sea.  Not had a chance to listen to it properly yet.
Rands was born in Sheffield in 1934.  He moved to the US in 1975 and became an American citizen in 1983.  The cello concerto was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the soloist at the premiere was Rostropovich. 
I had not heard of Rands until recently but his works have been played by many prominent conductors, judging by his website. 

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #913 on: April 09, 2021, 10:00:10 PM »
Just received the CD 'Chains Like the Sea', featuring music by Bernard Rands.  Contains his cello concerto and the works Danza Petrificada and Chains Like the Sea.  Not had a chance to listen to it properly yet.
Rands was born in Sheffield in 1934.  He moved to the US in 1975 and became an American citizen in 1983.  The cello concerto was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the soloist at the premiere was Rostropovich. 
I had not heard of Rands until recently but his works have been played by many prominent conductors, judging by his website.
What's the music like?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #914 on: April 09, 2021, 10:29:57 PM »
I relistened recently to Graham Whettam's Sinfonia Intrepida



It really is a very fine work indeed and one worthy of far greater dissemination than it has had.  The MusicWeb review(s) - 20 years old now! - from which I have lifted the image is by 3 different reviewers all of whom rate the work very highly.  Redcliffe Recodings released a 2nd Whettam disc and then...... nothing.

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/Feb01/Whettam.htm

I have a memory (which I can't substantiate!) that this work was premiered in Liverpool by the RLPO and also that Whettam wrote a work for the Liverpool Schools Symphony Orchestra that we played with much delight but I can't remember the work's name and its not listed on his Wiki page.

Certainly given all the music that continues to be discovered Whettam deserves re-discovery....................

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #915 on: April 09, 2021, 10:35:24 PM »
While trawling for the Whettam image in the post above, I found this list of "Cheltenham Symphonists".  This remains to this day a short-hand disparagement of a certain kind of composer/composing - somehow lacking rigour and rather soft-centred - Classic FM comes to the Concert Hall type of thing.  But to my mind this list is mightily impressive!  What a list of fine composers and fine works.  Whoever was responsible for coinsistently comissioning or allowing premieres of a roster of work like this demands our undying thanks.......Here is a list of symphonic and concertante works first performed in public at the Cheltenham Festivals from 1945-1964:

1946   Benjamin Britten – Piano Concerto (revised)                 
1946   Edmund Rubbra – Symphony No.2 (revised)                 
1947   Alan Rawsthorne – Oboe Concerto                     
1947   Ian Whyte – Symphony No.1                       
1948   Arthur Benjamin – Symphony No.1                     
1948   Alan Rawsthorne – Violin Concerto                 
1949   Richard Arnell – Symphony No.4, Op.52                 
1949   Gordon Jacob – Symphonic Suite                     
1950   Francis Baines – Concerto for Trumpet and Strings               
1950   Arnold Bax – Concertante for Piano (left hand)               
1950   Anthony Collins – Symphony No.2 for Strings               
1950   Peter Racine Fricker – Symphony, Op.9                 
1950   William Alwyn – Symphony No.1 in D                 
1951   Arnold Van Wyk – Symphony No.1 in A minor               
1951   Maurice Jacobson – Symphonic Suite for Strings               
1951   John Gardner – Symphony in D minor                 
1951   Malcolm Arnold – Symphony No.1                     
1952   Arthur Benjamin – Piano Concerto (Quasi una Fantasia)           
1952   John Veale – Symphony                       
1952   William Wordsworth – Sinfonia in A minor for Strings           
1953   Richard Arnell – Symphony No.3, Op.40                 
1953   Iain Hamilton – Symphony No.2, Op.10                 
1953   William Wordsworth – Symphony No.3 in C, Op.48               
1954   Geoffrey Bush – Symphony No.1                     
1954   Stanley Bate – Symphony No.3                     
1954   Peter Racine Fricker – Violin Concerto No.2, Op.21               
1954   Alun Hoddinott – Clarinet Concerto                     
1954   Graham Whettam – Viola Concerto                     
1955   Gerald Finzi – Cello Concerto                     
1955   Humphrey Searle – Piano Concerto No.2                 
1955   Brian Easdale – Concerto Lirico for Piano and Orchestra           
1956   Iain Hamilton – Symphonic Variations, Op.19               
1956   Daniel Jones – Symphony No.3                     
1956   Kenneth Leighton – Cello Concerto   
1957   Robert Simpson – Symphony No.2                     
1957   Arthur Butterworth – Symphony No.1                 
1957   Arnold Cooke – Clarinet Concerto                     
1957   Malcolm Arnold – Horn Concerto No.2, Op.58               
1957   John Gardner – Piano Concerto No.1, Op.34               
1958   Malcolm Williamson – Piano Concerto                 
1958   Alun Hoddinott – Harp Concerto, Op.11                 
1958   Ian Parrott – Cor Anglais Concerto                     
1959   Arnold Cooke – Violin Concerto                     
1959   John Addison – Concertante for Oboe, Clarinet and Horn           
1959   Malcolm Lipkin – Piano Concerto                     
1959   Iain Hamilton – Violin Concerto, Op.15                 
1960   R. W. Wood – Piano Concerto                     
1961   Malcolm Arnold – Symphony No.5                     
1961   Rawsthorne - Concerto for Ten Instruments
1962   Alun Hoddinott – Symphony No.2, Op.29                 
1962   Benjamin Frankel – Symphony No.2, Op.38                 
1962   Alexander Goehr – Violin Concerto                     
1963   Thea Musgrave – Sinfonia                       
1964   Alan Rawsthorne – Symphony No.3                     
1964   William Schuman – Violin Concerto   

another poster added this......

Other interesting Cheltenham works not listed above include -

1949   Philip Sainton - Nadir, Symphonic Poem
1949   George Dyson - Concerto da Camera for String Orchestra
1951   Brian Easdale - The Sleeping Children, Opera
1952   Anthony Collins - Hogarth Suite for Oboe and String Orchestra
1952   Geoffrey Bush - The Spanish Rivals, Overture
1953   John Joubert - Overture, Op.3
1953   Geoffrey Bush - The Rhearsal, Overture
1955   Robin Milford - Overture for a Celebration
1955   Lennox Berkeley - Suite from Nelson
1956   Antony Hopkins - Ten O'Clock Call, Opera
1956   Geoffrey Bush - If the Cap Fits, Opera
1959   Anthony Milner - Variations for Orchestra, Op.14
1959   Anthony Hopkins - Hands Across the Sky, Opera
1960   Richard Rodney Bennett - Five Pieces for Orchestra
1960   Francis Burt - Espressione Orchestrale, Op.10
1960   Reginald Smith Brindle - Cosmos, four movements for Orchestra
1961   John Wilks - Six Pieces for Orchestra
1961   William Bardwell - The Tragic Mask
1961   Richard Rodney Bennett - Journal for Orchestra
1961   Alan Bush - Dorian Passacaglia and Fugue for Orchestra, Op.52
1963   Reginald Smith Brindle - Homage to H.G. Wells for Orchestra
1964   Elisabeth Lutyens - Music for Orchestra III, Op.56

Offline vandermolen

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Re: The British Composers Thread
« Reply #916 on: April 09, 2021, 10:44:41 PM »
I relistened recently to Graham Whettam's Sinfonia Intrepida



It really is a very fine work indeed and one worthy of far greater dissemination than it has had.  The MusicWeb review(s) - 20 years old now! - from which I have lifted the image is by 3 different reviewers all of whom rate the work very highly.  Redcliffe Recodings released a 2nd Whettam disc and then...... nothing.

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/Feb01/Whettam.htm

I have a memory (which I can't substantiate!) that this work was premiered in Liverpool by the RLPO and also that Whettam wrote a work for the Liverpool Schools Symphony Orchestra that we played with much delight but I can't remember the work's name and its not listed on his Wiki page.

Certainly given all the music that continues to be discovered Whettam deserves re-discovery....................
Never heard of it - looks most interesting. Your helpful list of 'Cheltenham Symphonies' include many works that I hold very highly, including Sainton's 'Nadir' and Arnell's 3rd Symphony, just as two examples. Both works are amongst my favourites. I sent a fan letter to Arnell in his Musician's Benevolent Society home after discovering it (having checked with their staff that it would be ok for me to do so) and received two charming responses from the composer.

PS I just sampled the Whettam symphony on You Tube - it sounds like a fine British Crash-Bang-Wallop symphony - right up my street!
« Last Edit: April 09, 2021, 11:39:56 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).